Who doesn’t love vintage Las Vegas? Unfortunately, most of these vestiges have dissapeared over the past half-century, as repeat visitors demand something new each time they return. Raze the old to make room for the new. Las Vegas is slowly becoming more proactive at preserving its past, but much of it requires removing the elements of yesteryear from their original havens and relocating them to surrogate locations. Relocation is fine, but there is no substitute for experiencing these attractions as they were originally designed and constructed. My recent interior design, photography project, for the El Cortez Hotel, is a great case study example.
In the early 1960s, Las Vegas casino mogul Jackie Gaughan acquired the El Cortez hotel; the hotel was originally constructed in 1941. With business progressing over the years Gaughan expanded the hotel’s room occupancy by adding a new guest tower in 1980. Atop the new tower Gaughan built his private residence, now famously know as the “The Jackie Gaughan Suite”. With his wife’s passing in 1996 and his in 2014, the private residence has been off limits with the exception of a few select hotel V.I.P.s - until now. Recently, the hotel introduced the suite to the public for the first time.
In addition to photographing the newly remodeled Tower guest rooms, the hotel asked me to capture the Jackie Gaughan penthouse suite. Now, I have been in more Las Vegas suites, villas, mansions, call them what you want, than one can count, but there is something special about entering a space that has not been updated nor remodeled since the day the keys were handed over. Additionally, the space has been meticulously groomed for the past forty years. My first thought upon entering was the furniture had to have been staged; it could not actually be the original. Every detail and appointment, right down to vintage closed circuit surveillance camera system and the immaculate kitchen appliances are original and completely intact.
Beginning in the late evening, I spent approximately eight hours in the penthouse capturing the unique spaces, finishing just before sunrise. The main living space, beyond the hand-crafted solid wood double entry doors & classic foyer entry, comprises the conversation area, dining room, lounge pit and full-size built-in bar. At opposite ends of the grand living area are bookend balconies, each providing spectacular 180 degree views of downtown below and the incredible Mojave Desert horizon in the distance.